Shale gas produced water treatment using innovative microbial capacitive desalination cell

Zachary A. Stoll, Casey Forrestal, Zhiyong Ren, Pei Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The rapid development of unconventional oil and gas production has generated large amounts of wastewater for disposal, raising significant environmental and public health concerns. Treatment and beneficial use of produced water presents many challenges due to its high concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons and salinity. The objectives of this study were to investigate the feasibility of treating actual shale gas produced water using a bioelectrochemical system integrated with capacitive deionization-a microbial capacitive desalination cell (MCDC). Microbial degradation of organic compounds in the anode generated an electric potential that drove the desalination of produced water. Sorption and biodegradation resulted in a combined organic removal rate of 6.4. mg dissolved organic carbon per hour in the reactor, and the MCDC removed 36. mg salt per gram of carbon electrode per hour from produced water. This study is a proof-of-concept that the MCDC can be used to combine organic degradation with desalination of contaminated water without external energy input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-855
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Bioelectrochemical processes
  • Capacitive deionization
  • Microbial desalination
  • Organic removal
  • Produced water treatment


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